On August 25th, St Michael’s Church Waterville was once again the venue for the ecumenical Service that forms an integral part of the annual Charlie Chaplin Film Festival.
The festival offers a mix of events, film screenings, workshops, comedy, music and street entertainment inspired by Chaplin, possibly the world’s best-known comedian. Charlie and his family loved Waterville and spent many holidays enjoying the beauty of the Kerry mountain scenery which provides a backdrop to the wild Atlantic, with its marine and birdlife, not to mention the historic Skelligs, the ‘islands on the edge of the world’.
The service was led by Revd Brian Rogers, a retired Church of England priest who lives in Waterville, and the music and sermon were provided by Rev Michael Cavanagh, Priest in Charge at Kenmare.
This year’s service set a challenge for everyone to ensure that each and every person, whatever their background, was welcomed into society and provided with the opportunity to develop and use their unique individual gifts.
We were reminded of the difficulties of Chaplin’s childhood but who, with help and support, surmounted those obstacles, and how we should look to those in our own society whose gifts may be ignored, neglected or underused.
In particular, we were made conscious of those seeking asylum under Direct Provision who have so much to offer but are prevented from so doing; and how, in following the charge in Zechariah 7:10 not to oppress the widow, the fatherless, the stranger, or the poor, we act out Jesus’ command to love one another as we have been loved.
In addition to welcoming local priests Fr. Gerard Finucane and Fr Mike Curran with members of their congregations, the service was joined by Charlie himself, represented by well-known impersonator and mime artist Charlie Pakdel, his partner Lavinia De Silva and a silent Keystone Cop. The packed church once more gave witness to our unity under Jesus Christ, and our joy at being part of His family together.